Review: SHERSHAAH is a well-made war saga with an excellent performance by Sidharth Malhotra that is sure to make your heart swell with pride and your eyes water.
SHERSHAAH is the story of a brave Indian soldier who gave his life during the Indo-Pakistan war in 1999. Vikram Batra (Sidharth Malhotra) stays with his parents in Palampur, Himachal and his twin brother, Vishal Batra. Since he was a child, he was interested in joining the military. In college, he meets Dimple (Kiara Advani) and falls in love with her. She reciprocates his love and the two begin a relationship. At this point, Vikram decides to join the merchant marine instead of the army, as it pays better. One day when Vikram drops Dimple at home, Dimple’s father (Bijay J Anand) catches them red-handed. He tells Vikram that since he belongs to a different caste, he cannot marry Dimple. Dimple, however, protests and even tells his father that Vikram would earn more than him as he will join the merchant marine. Meanwhile, Vikram begins to have doubts after his best friend Sunny (Sahil Vaid) insists that he should not give up on his dream of joining the army. Vikram tells Dimple about his change of plans. This enrages Dimple and she asks him not to make any further changes to future plans. Vikram then enrolls in an army institute and passes with flying colors. In 1998, he obtained his first place in the 13th Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in Sopore. Vikram is now a lieutenant. His regiment comprises Lieutenant Sanjeev Jamwal (Shiv Panditt), Naib Sudebar Bansi Lal Sharma (Anil Charanjeett), Subedar Raghunath (Raj Arjun), Major Subrata Mukherjee (Abhiroy Singh) and Major Ajay Jasrotia aka Jassi (Nikitin Dheer), etc. Over time, Vikram proves his worth when he manages to capture a feared terrorist, Attaullah (David Browne), who is part of the gang of an evil militant, Haider (Mir Sarwar). Vikram also befriends the locals, unlike other soldiers. This proves to be of great help as a friendly local, Gafoor (Zahoor Zaidi), informs him that his son Arslaan (Afnan Ashia) has joined Haider’s gang but wants to leave them. Meanwhile, Haider attacks the 13 Jammu and Kashmir rifles as they moved as an act of revenge for capturing Attaullah. Naib Sudebar Bansi Lal Sharma is killed in this attack. Arslaan helps Vikram as he tells the latter about Haider’s hideout. In a risky operation, Vikram leads his team to the hideout and manages to capture and eliminate Haider. Before his death, Haider warns Vikram that something great and devastating will soon happen. What happens next forms the rest of the movie.
The history of Sandeep Shrivastava is well researched and very interesting. Sandeep Shrivastava’s script is effective and fluid. The writer has packed a lot into 135 minutes and yet kept the focus on Vikram Batra’s accomplishments as an army officer. On the other hand, some developments are not adequately explained in the first half. Sandeep Shrivastava’s dialogues are conversational but at the same time they also have the required force and drama. The use of abusive language, however, may not be appreciated by the family audience.
Vishnu Vardhan’s direction is supreme and he handles the film in a very commercial way. He also does not waste time and decides to highlight only what is necessary to move the story forward. Therefore, once Attaullah is captured, except for a fleeting shot, it is not even shown on film and yet it does not appear incomplete. Dimple’s father is an important character and even here the director made his character impactful with minimal scenes. The masterstroke in this regard is with respect to the character of Vikram Batra’s twin brother, Vishal. The action and war scenes are simplistic and easy to understand. However, the movie seems a bit repetitive in the second half, during the scene in which the soldiers try to capture the strategic points. Also, it is puzzling when and why Vikram suddenly decides to opt for the merchant marine. The other confusing part of the movie is the scene where Gafoor prevents Vikram from meeting Arslaan. Earlier, it was Gafoor who approached Vikram and informed him that Arslaan is working for the militants.
SHERSHAAH begins on an unusual and exciting note. Shershaah’s childhood and college scenes are beautiful. The scene where Vikram and Dimple finally talk is fine, but the scene becomes memorable thanks to the Rock Garden setting. The fun begins once Vikram joins his unit in Sopore and the bond he creates with fellow soldiers. The scene where Vikram manages to capture Attaullah and the subsequent conversation with Sanjeev Jamwal is excellent. The sudden attack on the army convoy and the death of Naib Sudebar Bansi Lal Sharma is shocking. The scene where Vikram infiltrates Haider’s hideout and kills him is terrible and would have been greeted with whistles and applause in theaters. After the interval, the episode of the war finally begins and, as expected, it is gripping. Some viewers may have complaints here as they must have seen his life story in LOC KARGIL by JP Dutta. . SHERSHAAH even recreates the scene where the Pakistani soldier suggests that he will leave the Indian Territory if India gives Madhuri Dixit in return. However, the impact occurs because LOC KARGIL does not have much recovery value. The last 20-25 minutes are very moving and will surely moisten the viewer’s eyes. The end credits last almost 11 minutes as the creators list the names, photographs of the soldiers in Vikram Batra’s regiment, and the accolades earned by them. It is a charming gesture and apt for a film that beautifully pays an ode to the greatness of the Indian army.
Sidharth Malhotra delivers the best performance of his career. The actor handles the role with sensitivity and perfection and completely falls under his skin. It also shows that he has evolved as an actor. It is unfortunate that SHERSHAAH does not have a theatrical release, as it would have given Sidharth’s career a huge boost. However, it is surely a feather in his cap as it shows that his acting skills are top notch. Kiara Advani, as expected, has a limited role but looks adorable and gives an excellent performance. The scene where she berates Sidharth for changing her career decision shows that Kiara has come a long way too. Shiv Panditt looks stylish and reliable. Anil Charanjeett is just right while Raj Arjun makes his presence felt. Abhiroy Singh leaves a mark and adapts to the role. Nikitin Dheer is great and it’s good to see him on the screen after a long time. Sahil Vaid, as always, does it well. Bijay J Anand is fine. Mir Sarwar is good but has become stereotypical in those roles. Zahoor Zaidi and Afnan Ashia are fair in their little roles. David Browne is hardly there. Shataf Figar (Lieutenant Colonel YK Joshi) plays an important role and provides capable support. Krishnay Batra (Junior Vikram Batra) and Kavay Tuteja (Junior Vishal Batra) are cute. GL Batra (Pawan Chopra) and Kamal Kanta Batra (Vijay Meenu) don’t have much reach.
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The music is normal, but luckily the songs are well placed and spaced. ‘Raataan Lambiyan’, ‘Ranjha’ Y ‘Kabhi Tumhe Yaad’ they are decent. ‘Bharryaa man’ is the best song of the lot and plays at a significant moment in the movie. ‘JaiHind Ki Sena’ is not part of the movie. John Stewart Eduri’s background score is theatrical and enhances the impact.
The cinematography of Kamaljeet Negi is spectacular and captures the sights of Kashmir perfectly. The production design by Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty and the costumes by Eka Lakhani are realistic. Stefan Richter and Sunil Rodrigues’ action is not too gory and adds to the excitement. Also, the war scenes are very well staged and look very authentic. Red Chillies.VFX’s VFX is compelling. Editing a Sreekar Prasad is neat.
Overall, SHERSHAAH is a well-crafted war saga that is sure to make your heart swell with pride and your eyes water. Sidharth Malhotra delivers the best performance of his career in this film which would have been a huge box office success had it been released in theaters. It is released around Independence Day and therefore it is sure to get a very good audience. Recommended!